Unlocking the written language of six four year olds
This study examined four year old children writing in a public school setting. The children were followed for an eight month period using these questions to guide observations. (a) What writing will these children produce at a language station once a week? (b) What verbal and nonverbal behaviors will these children produce during time at the language station? (c) What understandings of the writing process do these children develop through the eight month period?
Observational data were recorded when the children came to the writing table. The children were audio taped and video taped each week. The writing session was evaluated using Clay's (1975) scale and Dyson's (1981) worksheet.
All of the children developed writing skills and made the most progress in learning the directional principles of writing. The children began to discover that their print held meaning and that they could discuss the use of letters and words with one another. At center time, writing held their constant attention. These children developed understandings in the use of written language, message quality of print and the directional principles of print. This study found that the children who have had more experience with books and have the ability to make meaning of written language themselves will reflect a higher understanding of written language.